SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1181 - October 18, 2002
Scuttlebutt is a digest of yacht racing news of major significance; commentary, opinions, features and dock talk . . . with a North American emphasis. Corrections, contributions, press releases, constructive criticism and contrasting viewpoints are always welcome, but save your bashing and personal attacks for elsewhere.
The drama is mounting in the Around Alone race as the fleet's entire Class 2
sails for port to seek shelter from a storm. The 12 solo sailors on the second
6,880-mile leg to Cape Town have already been battered by bad weather crossing
the Bay of Biscay since leaving Torbay on Monday. Now winds up to 70 knots are
expected to reach more than 800 miles from the centre of the storm. The faster
60 footers in Class I might be able avoid the worst of the weather, but the
smaller 50 and 40 footers in Class II would catch the full force of the storm.
- CNN.com / insides sailing website,
The first of the Class 2 yachts have made it to land where they will take
shelter from the intense low pressure system that is fast approaching from the
west. Early this morning John Dennis on Bayer Ascensia tied up in La Coruna on
the north coast of Spain. It's ironic that he chose La Coruna as a
destination. His boat, which used to belong to this writer, spent almost a
year in La Coruna and is well known to the locals. I am sure that John will
not be doing much sight-seeing, but if he finds time, he will find the people
friendly and the town steeped in history and culture.
Further to the south Brad van Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America sailed
into Bayonne, Portugal. He will soon be followed by Alan Paris on BTC
Velocity, Kojiro Shiraishi on Spirit of yukoh, and later in the day Derek
Hatfield on Spirit of Canada and Tim Kent on Everest Horizontal. That will
round out Class 2.
The only Class 1 boat that has decided to stop is Bruce Schwab on Ocean
Planet. Bruce was late leaving Torbay after having replaced his broken boom,
and because of it he has been sailing with the Class 2 boats. It's that part
of the fleet that's expected to get the brunt of the storm.
Each skipper who receives outside assistance will receive a 48-hour penalty
added to their elapsed time for the leg and the clock also continues to run.
There is also the question of using their engine to motor into the harbor. If
a skipper chooses to motor they must note on a declaration the exact location
at which they turned their engines on, and if possible record the location
either visually by filming a landmark, or by filming the date, time and
position on their GPS. It is at this point the 48 hr time penalty is applied,
but when they leave they will have to return to that exact spot where the
engine seal was broken to continue racing and again record the time and place,
before shutting off the engine. The final piece of the puzzle is that the
skippers will have to reseal their engines and send details of how this was
accomplished back to the race organizers. - Mary Ambler
Standings Fleet Positions 05:00 UTC October 18, 2002 - CLASS 1: 1. Bobst
Group-Armor Lux, Bernard Stamm, 6506 miles from finish; 2. Solidaires, Thierry
Dubois, 70 miles behind leader; 3. Pindar, Emma Richards, 109 mbl; 4. Hexagon,
Graham Dalton, 143 mbl; 3. 4. CLASS 2: 1. Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America, Brad
Van View, 6720 miles from finish; 2. Everest Horizontal, Tim Kent, 8 mbl;
3.Spirit of Yukoh, Kojiro Shiraishi, 16 mbl; 4. BTC Velocity, Alan Paris, 28
mbl. - www.aroundalone.com
THE UMPIRE'S GAME
There's little doubt this year's Louis Vuitton Cup fleet is highly
competitive. Skippers and helmsmen like Russell Coutts, Peter Gilmour, Rod
Davis, Peter Holmberg and James Spithill have earned aggressive reputations on
the match-race circuit by using the rules to their advantage, whether faster
or slower. So were these devotees to the match-racing discipline and others
passive or aggressive in Round 1? The answer might be neither. You could say
teams were crying wolf in Round 1.
According to International Jury statistics, 32 green flags were flown by the
on-water umpires in response to requests for penalties during the 35 completed
matches of Round 1. The umpires issued eight penalties, three for right-of-way
infractions and five umpire-initiated. "Green flags don't mean much. Probably
a lot of them are tongue in cheek," said Chief Umpire Bryan Willis.
The surprisingly high rate of green flags, 80 percent, is contrary to what is
found on the match-race tour, noted umpire Luciano Giacomi, who compiled the
statistics. Usually there are far more penalties than green flags. Giacomi
also said that an estimated 90-percent of the calls were for proper course. He
attributed it to different boat optimisation and the different angles
associated with using an asymmetric spinnaker versus a symmetric spinnaker.
"Usually on the tour we have one or the other, and not the option," said
As for the most flag-happy team, the GBR Challenge is the clear winner. Twenty
"Y" flags were flown in matches involving the GBR Challenge, although not all
by them. Figures released by the umpires are not attributed to individual
boats, just races. By flying code flag Y, a red and yellow striped flag,
competitors are requesting the umpires rule on a perceived rules infraction.
The umpires either green flag it, meaning no penalty, or fly a blue or yellow
flag, corresponding to the infringing yacht.
France's le DŽfi Areva and Oracle BMW Racing were the next most active with 14
Y flags in their matches. Half of each team's total came in their match
against GBR Challenge. The French were the most penalised team in Round 1. Two
of the three penalties issued went against le Defi. One of those penalties
came in desperation during the Flight 9 match against Mascalzone Latino, a
match that the French lost near the finish after leading down the run. - Sean
McNeill, Louis Vuitton website. There's lots more to this story:
Are your winches worn out or getting ugly? Now's your chance to re-dress your
boat with some shiny new Lewmar winches. Take any old winch off your boat and
Lewmar will take 10% off their reliable and easy to service winches. But wait.
That's not all! Buy them from Annapolis Performance Sailing and they will
increase their everyday 20% off Lewmar to 25% for this offer. That's 25% off
full list price from APS plus an additional 10% from Lewmar. The best winches
at the best prices. Check out the weekly updated sale rack for details.
Land Rover New Zealand have supplied transportation to the staff and crew of
GBR Challenge during their stay in New Zealand, and all team vehicles carry
the distinctive GBR Challenge logo. Nine vehicles have been made available,
two of which are the Defender, which are ideal for ferrying sails, large
amounts of gear and the crew. The other vehicles involved in transporting the
GBR Challenge team are the Freelander, Discovery and Range Rover. -
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON (email@example.com)
(Letters selected for publication must include the writer's name and may be
edited for clarity or space - 250 words max. This is not a chat room or a
bulletin board - you only get one letter per subject, so give it your best
shot and don't whine if others disagree.)
* From Justin Assad (edited to our 250-word limit): While windsurfing has its
merits, I think some of the recent comments by adults regarding junior sailing
are out of touch. Kids love optimist sailing. Though some who never sailed
optimists degrade the "shoebox" boat, but it has plenty of appeal to kids.
They get to control a boat by themselves, and when planing conditions exist an
optimist is a blast for 10-15 year old kids! My optimist sailors stay in the
optimist as long as possible because they enjoy it so much.
Maybe junior sailing should explore the prohibitively-priced 29ers and
Vectors. However, most 420 teams weighing 265-295 lbs get plenty of excitement
on a three-sail reach or run in waves. The trapeze is exciting for junior
sailors; it is easy for those who have been racing for a long time to forget
the how much fun their first few seasons in trapeze dinghies was.
High-school sailing is exploding in the U.S. among the age-bracket that
allegedly finds it boring - this is not even "high-performance" sailing! The
answer is not big boats or windsurfing; it is a better experience for the
individual involved. Foster the competitive spirit in him (or her) and they
will eat it up and that is what will get them hooked. Take your Opti/420
sailors away from your yacht club or bay on fun trips to find the best
competition or just a different set of competitors, and they will love it.
Find a coach that will help them set goals and achieve them.
* From Michael Grandfield President, International Tornado Association: A
fair race cannot be achieved without a fair start. In the Tornados, OCS boats
have a disproportionate advantage over and do disproportionate harm to boats
that start fairly.
A Tornado is a very low momentum boat with high top-end (35 knots) and
sustained speeds (15-18 knots upwind, 25 knots downwind). At one minute before
the start, a Tornado fleet is just a couple of boat lengths behind the line,
and very nearly at zero knots (maintaining only the ability to steer cleanly).
At about 10 seconds before the start, the fleet sheets in and accelerates to
top upwind speed.
An OCS boat is able to accelerate into clear air. In its wake (air & waves),
boats that started fairly are being slowed significantly. The difference in
speed off the starting line between boats in clean air and dirty air can
easily be several knots. Let's say 5 knots to make this a concrete example.
That's 83 feet every 10 seconds... a race-winning advantage can be established
within the first minute of the race.
Good Race Officers are much appreciated by the Tornado fleet; they bring
accuracy, discipline, and fairness. The 2002 World Championship was a model of
great Race Committee work. However, we need a quicker way to clear OCS boats
off the course. And, general recalls are needed if all OCS boats cannot be
identified; the fairness of the race is otherwise compromised.
* From Mark Gaudio: Bill Lee has done it again. I have been too preoccupied
with business to read much butt as of late, but was delighted to read the
piece by Mr. Lee on OCS. A buzzer to signal premature e-start-u-laters is a
brilliant idea, one that has been talked about in certain circles, but not
used. Model boat racing is a perfect trial venue (similar to lab rats) for
certain aspects of experimentation in yacht racing. Glad to see the idea
works. I like it, lets give it a shot! Compared to the vast, vast, did I say
vast enough?, amount of money that big boat owners are willing to pay to get a
..005 knot,(let alone go the right direction) the $ is meaningless. Even in the
"real" world of yacht racing (one design that is), competitors would be
willing to fork over a paltry sum to be confident that all competitors get the
same fair shake of the stick. I know I would.
* From Sharon Bourke & Larry Whipple, Co-Chairmen, Columbus Day Regatta: As
information, the 48th Columbus Day Regatta raced down Biscayne Bay on
Saturday, anchored overnight off Elliot Key and raced back on Sunday. In the
early 80's we peaked at 747 sailboats racing. Since Hurricane Andrew, in 1992,
we've always had less than 200 boats. We had 183 entries this year, not 600 as
mentioned in the Miami Herald article. The powerboats number in the thousands
and continue to grow. They come down early on Saturday, roaring through the
racers at speeds up to 60 knots, and party their brains out all weekend long.
They don't watch the race, most know nothing of the race and think getting
drunk on the water is a regatta. Few sailors with common sense anchor near
This past holiday weekend, there were two boating accidents in which people
were killed. One in which one power boater was towing another at night, when a
third hit them at a high rate of speed. This accident was about 12 miles north
of the anchorage. The second happened about 5 miles from the anchorage when a
power boater drove his boat into some mangroves at a high rate of speed at
The Miami Herald put these stories together and ran headlines like "Columbus
Day Regatta rowdy, deadly", "Two boaters die during regatta" and "Body is a
likely regatta victim". We believe the Columbus Day Regatta is getting a bad
rap from the Miami Herald.
CHANGES BETWEEN ROUNDS
(Following is a brief excerpt from a story by Fiona McIlroy on the nzoom.com
A syndicate who may be rethinking their design is American heavyweights Oracle
BMW Racing, whose small sail area seems to perform in heavy breezes but lags a
little during light air downwind runs. Consecutive losses to Alinghi, GBR and
OneWorld in the latter stages of the round robin will not have gone down well
with the syndicate or their billionaire backer software mogul Larry Ellison.
But a week doesn't provide much time to make major changes, so most of the
crews will have to be content with small modifications.
Another American crew who will be trying to improve this week will be Team
Dennis Conner. They arrived later than most with high expectations of their
ability, which seem to have been a little dented after their first eight
races. Rumour has it that USA66 is not as fast as they may have liked her to
be and that USA77, complete with her new bow, may be unleashed for round robin
One of the pleasant surprises to come out of these first two weeks of racing
is the performance of the GBR Challenge crew. Before racing the word on
Syndicate Row was GBR70 was not a speed machine, however, the crew seemed to
have found the right buttons to push and come out with some surprisingly
fantastic results, including a shock 36 seconds win over Oracle.
Another underdog, Victory Challenge, made a formidable entry into the
competition, with their three early wins showing the benefits of countless
hours of training on the Hauraki Gulf over the last year. However, the Swedes
have lagged in the latter stages with five consecutive losses and even tried
changing their helmsman from Jesper Bank to Magnus Holmberg for the final race
with little success.
More optimistic about their preparation are surely the two leaders. Alinghi
and OneWorld were touted as early favourites and have proved their fans right.
Although it was OneWorld who took the gun during the race between the two,
some suspect that Alinghi are holding back in the early stages of the series
and doing enough to qualify in the top four but no more. - Fiona McIlroy,
nzoom.com website, full story:
CHECK OUT DECK SPECS ON HARKEN.COM
Boat set up is easer than ever with Harken Deck Specs! This year, we've
organized our library of hardware systems by basic boat size. Use the
suggested layouts as is, or modify and customize them to suit your own boat
and sailing style. Deck Specs was a big hit with sailors at the Annapolis Boat
Show and is now posted on www.harken.com/rigtips/rigtips.php Deck Specs
is also featured in the front of the 2003 Harken catalog.
If Team Dennis Conner and his Stars and Stripes campaign don't return the
America's Cup to its spiritual home at the New York Yacht Club (NYYC), you get
the feeling they would be happy for it to stay in Auckland.
NYYC commodore Charlie Dana, who was here for most of the first round-robin of
the Louis Vuitton Cup before returning to his shipyard business at Rhode
Island, said he was "totally blown away" by what the America's Cup has done
for downtown Auckland.
"It is amazing what the cup has meant to your country," said 55-year-old Dana.
"My wife commented to me when we were here last time that she didn't think
anyone would go home from New Zealand not a changed person. We have tried to
figure out what we could do in New York if we won the cup to try and replicate
what has been done at the Viaduct Basin. Hats off to them. People are already
using what you have here as the benchmark. You are very lucky."
Dana believed that, apart from the rich players in the America's Cup, the NYYC
and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron were the only yacht clubs playing a
strong role in maintaining the traditions of the cup. - NZPA, posted on the
stuffnz wesite, full story:
LE DEFI AREVA
Will the colourful French be the first to go home? That's a major question
heading into the second round of the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger yachting
series starting next week. Semifinalists in the last challenger series, Le
Defi Areva find themselves languishing at the bottom of the table after the
first round without a win in the current series. But the team's rules adviser
and sailing coach Philippe Gomez is not panicking. Competing in his third
America's Cup, Gomez said all that is needed is a bit of fine-tuning.
"There are two reasons for not winning a race and they are the same for
everybody," he said. "Either your boat is too slow or you make mistakes in
tactics. We lost several races because of speed - we were never in a position
to fight - and we lost against GBR Challenge and Mascalzone Latino because we
made tactical mistakes."
Most yachting experts would agree that the French boat FRA69 is by no means
slow. It is the work on board which needs a little more polishing. "If
everyone thinks we have a fast boat - perfect," Gomez said. We were not in the
upper range of speed. The speed of the boat is not good on the beats, and that
is the main problem. Downwind is good."
Gomez said his team have made some modifications to their yacht during the
seven-day break between rounds. "We have made lots of minor changes, but
nothing radical. We don't have the resources to make radical changes," he
said. - N.Z.P.A. as posted on the Stuff NZ website, full story:
QUOTE / UNQUOTE
The concern is that we've got to find ways to keep improving, because we know
that whoever wins this will have been improving all the way through. That's
the challenge for all of the teams here. - Russell Coutts, LVC website, full
Sailors representing three countries transcended on the Santa Cruz Yacht Club
from Oct. 9-13 for the 2002 Pegasus Racing US Finn Nationals. This was the
first US Sailing Team Qualifier for 2003. Eleven races were scheduled and ten
were counted with one throw out coming into play. All conditions were
encountered including pea soup fog. Final Results 1. Richard Clarke, Canada,
13 pts; 2. Chris Cook, Canada, 19 pts; 3. Mike Milner, Canada, 35 pts; 4.
Aaron O'Grady, Ireland, 40 pts; 5. Mo Hart, USA 40 pts. Full results:
CALENDAR OF MAJOR EVENTS
November 1-3: Hillman Capital Management J/24 East Coast Championship,
Annapolis, MD. NOR: www.j24fleet8.org
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATION
Consumption of alcohol may actually cause pregnancy!